The Review of Austrian Economics, 18:1, 117–119, 2005.
2005 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. Manufactured in The Netherlands.
(2002) Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom,New
Brunswick, NJ, and London: Rutgers University Press.
In his book, Paul Rubin argues that the theory of evolution and the evolutionary history of
humans are relevant for understanding contemporary political behavior. He claims that the
underlying political taste for freedom, which is best fulﬁlled in modern western societies,
is a biological heritage from the hunter-gatherer bands of human prehistory.
Starting by linking biology and politics, Rubin then analyzes group and social behavior,
altruism and cooperation, envy, political power, the role of religion in politics, and individual
decision-making, before he summarizes the policy implications of political behavior shaped
by human prehistory for contemporary political decision-making.
Concerning methodology, Rubin uses the framework of evolutionary psychology in order
to provide a reading of political behaviors and preferences common to humans today,
regarding them as the result of our biological evolution as humans. Rubin substitutes the
concept of the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA), corresponding to the
time when humans evolved as species, for the concept of the state of nature, thus imposing
constraints on cultural evolution. However, rather than studying prehistorical coevolution of
biology and culture, Rubin focuses on biological evolution and employs a comparative static
approach, comparing human prehistory—the EEA—and the present rather than a dynamic
approach, studying the evolutionary process from human prehistory, through human history
up to the present. Consequently, Rubin leaves history and cultural evolution as a black box.
In order to study politics as an evolutionary process, history and cultural evolution are
essential. The spontaneously evolved social order is based on both the innate, genetically
inherited rules of human behavior and the learned, culturally transmitted rules of human
conduct (Hayek 1967, 1973). Rubin tries to explain current social orders by innate, ge-
netically inherited rules that emerged during human prehistory, but such an explanation is
insufﬁcient. Intentionality, which shapes institutions, has its background both in the deep
background common to all cultures and in local cultural practices that vary between cultures
(Searle 1999). The deep background is itself a blend of biology and culture.
Using Searle’s (1999) view of consciousness, upon which intentionality is based, as a
uniﬁed ﬁeld from the start, and Hayek’s (1952) view of the map, as apparatus of classiﬁcation
which represents events that the organism has met during its whole past, the analysis of the
evolution of political institutions of a free society requires dynamics rather than Rubin’s
comparative statics. Cultural evolution includes human biological evolution, but not the
other way around.
Engerman, Haber and Sokoloff (2000) show how factor endowments shape institutions. In
this context, it would have been interesting to see the interaction between innate, genetically
inherited rules and factor endowments in shaping learned, culturally transmitted rules, but